Kingfisher has hired a veteran Carrefour executive to replace its outgoing chief executive Véronique Laury, who stepped down earlier in the year after ditching profit targets linked to the DIY group’s transformation programme.
Thierry Garnier, who heads up Carrefour’s Asian business, will join Kingfisher in the autumn.
Mr Garnier won the top job at the B&Q, Castorama and Screwfix owner, the group said on Thursday, because of his credentials building up Carrefour’s business in China, a competitive and politically challenging market where the French supermarket group has stood out as one of very few western retailers to have stayed the course.
Mr Thierry, a graduate of France’s prestigious École Polytechnique, was a technical adviser to Michel Barnier in the 1990s, when the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator was Jacques Chirac’s European affairs secretary. The incoming Kingfisher chief executive joined Carrefour’s French hypermarket’s business in 1997, progressing to run its French business, its international arm and then its Asian division, which has more than 350 stores in China and Taiwan.
He is joining Kingfisher after a period of mixed fortunes at the DIY group, whose British B&Q brand has struggled with householders increasingly hiring tradesmen instead of doing home improvements themselves.
From when Ms Laury joined the business until her departure was announced in March, Kingfisher produced a negative shareholder return of 13.5 per cent, although it remains a profitable business with a large property estate.
Kingfisher chairman Andy Coslett said:
“In what was a rigorous recruitment process, Thierry stood out for the board from a strong list of candidates due to his recognised operational knowhow at a multinational retail business, his delivery of long-term value creation, and his experience in driving leading edge digital innovation, most recently in China.”